EU takes a step further to kill Privacy on the Internet

Privacy has been an issue all along past many decades, especially since Google started sneaking into what you are searching on the Internet. In an age where people are concerned more about their privacy than ever, law makers and law enforcement officers of the European Union (EU) want phone companies and Internet Service Providers to turn in data encryption keys to them so that they can better monitor what is happening on the Internet. This comes in disguise of “fight against terrorism”.

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According to reports, a senior European official has urged all EU country heads to force ISPs and phone service providers to turn in the encryption keys so that they can monitor terrorist activities. They have a strong case following the Paris attack and probably the Internet Service Providers will oblige. Already the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, said he is against encryption on Whatsapp and similar communication apps. He also wants a ban on such communication apps so that “terrorists can be controlled”. However, this is ridiculous because if they wish to communicate, the real terrorists can figure out some way or the other. They have already been communicating using cryptic symbols in emails, right under the nose of law enforcement agencies that can’t decode them.

It seems EU authorities and David Cameron are really desperate to stop and contain “Terrorist Attacks” and hence want all privacy stripped off all communication apps along all the different mobile platforms. The EU’s counter terrorism officer, Gilles De Kerchove, says that after Snowden’s revelations, almost all messaging apps are using decentralized encryption that is making it difficult to decrypt the messages making rounds on the Internet.

Note that the idea of asking ISPs and mobile phone operators to turn in their encryption system details comes just after different EU officials calling for a better monitoring system in place that could crack down on inflammatory messages.

Though it is not yet clear if the ISPs and mobile services providers will listen to them and whether such a law can be passed. The bill, even its draft state, will meet tremendous opposition from users of the communication apps and the Internet as a whole. But the EU official sure says that they have laws that can keep an eye on communications on social media and that many social media companies are willing to turn in data as and when required by the law enforcement officers.

Thinking of the protests such bills met in past, I doubt that such thing as handing over encryption details to law authorities can be implemented. But if such a bill is tabled and passed in the EU courts, the US and other countries will soon follow the footsteps and it will be the death of privacy for users of Internet and Internet based chat apps.

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Arun Kumar is obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. He also offers online training for Business English. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN

2 Comments

  1. Dan

    The uber-vigilance against overly-defined, ubiquitously termed “terrah” these days seems to make the internet the sole tool available to deep plotters who are two-dimensional and but for encryption could be instantly stunned by any global security force.

    In no small way, the USA for example has been intrigued by prying into matters of the internet; while doing so, it has missed the Boston Marathon bad guys, the North Albany Oregon “bomber boy” and his two houses’ worth of high explosives (which then were close enough to have harmed even my wife/me due to where we then lived), and so many other obvious miscreants having not much to do with the internet. Yet there are few if any detective officers these days, even as ISPs move toward making every home account carry a free hotspot, and mobile phones emerge with automatically changing MAC numbers (de facto frustrating tracking)…but no, just focus on the internet and what everyday people themselves have valid reasons for using (anti-theft, legally required customer data defense, e.g.) and blame the People’s use of internet for being the sole enabler of mayhem.

    As Alastair Sim’s character says early in “A Christmas Carol”, I’ll retire to bedlam.

    I hardly support crime or terrorism. I do not necessarily blame any government’s law or military agents for trying to do the best they can…in fact, I recently said the Indian government likely acted in the public’s true interest when briefly suspending access to certain sites goofballs were using to spew hate to that nation.

    In essence, it would be more helpful if politicians everywhere gave military and police personnel what those personnel need to be effective based on their own training and experiences (subject to Court approvals), rather than legislate to same they shall keep personnel to a minimum and have ultra-power to act against anyone on a hunch, while further being charged with the impossible task of being everywhere at once and knowing all things each person on the face of the globe is doing…and people are made to feel awkward advancing proactive security debate.

    Hope this contributes in a positive way; thanks for a good article. Cheers to all!

  2. Deepeejay

    If encryption is outlawed and removed the net will collapse. Internet banking will not work nor will many processes currently requiring encryption. It will be leave all of our personal private matters on the net as good as an open book for the whole world to read – madness. Identity theft will be rampant. Our politicians haven’t thought it through. They are ill-informed, ignorant and dangerous. Would you give a child a screwdriver and ask it to mend your personal computer?

    For more persuasive arguments please use this link…..

    http://www.theguardian.com/technology/audio/2015/jan/21/david-cameron-encryption-tech-weekly-podcast

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